On April 17, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) held a hearing in Washington DC to focus on the role that libraries play in providing Internet services in the US. Without greater support for libraries to provide highspeed access to information, the country's digital divide will only grow larger in the future. Today, 60% of American libraries offer the only free computer and Internet access in their communities -- yet only 9% report having the high-capacity connections necessary to support these needs. The goal of providing truly universal access to the Internet at speeds required by the evolving Internet-based economy is clearly still at risk. Congress remains gridlocked, and, with the courts requiring a two-tiered option for Internet access, libraries' work is clearly not done. Accolades and good intentions -- as represented in the IMLS hearing -- are important, but clearly there is a major battle looming over the future of what the Internet will become.
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